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Sustainability

Consumer Behavior Expert on the Intersection of Branding and Political Issues: 

Background:

Researcher, Entrepreneur, Speaker

My work has been profiled in a number of prominent media outlets (New York Times, NPR’s Morning Edition, Washington Post). Two of my papers were finalists for the Journal of Consumer Research's "Best Paper of the Year" award in 2014 and in 2020. I have also written for Harvard Business Review, and Sloan Management Review.  My commentary has been profiled on The Today Show, Yahoo Finance, and NPR’s Hidden Brain podcast.

 

Prior to being a professor I worked for McKinsey and was on the founding team and former Executive Director of Creative Commons which now has over 1 billion openly-licensed works on the internet and is used by Google, whitehouse.gov, PLOS journals, and Wikipedia. I received my doctorate from Harvard Business School.

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Neeru Paharia

Professor of Marketing at Arizona State University

W.P. Carey School of Business

 

My Research

I hold the rank of Professor of marketing at the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University. My research expertise spans across several areas:

Sustainable Consumption: Much of my work aims to understand how to motivate consumers towards greater sustainable consumption. In particular I consider the psychology of agency. Most consumers would not lock a person in their basement to make their clothes. However, when a company uses questionable labor practices consumers feel less responsibility so it's easier psychologically to buy the clothes. Companies can help consumers feel responsible by connecting them to producers emotionally, or by using made-to-order production. Consumers can also make a huge difference by "buying better and buying less." Companies should focus on making things like price-per-wear, and usage life more salient to consumers. 

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Brands as Political Actors:  Recently, brands have been drawn into the political fray and have been pressured to take on positions on polarizing political issues. I study how consumers respond when brands take on these polarizing political positions and whether they boycott or “buycott” those brands. I study how consumers respond to brands that lobby the government, and how liberals and conservatives respond to different brand positions. On a more micro-level, I study how brands can gain their own political support by highlighting their underdog brand biographies.

Symbolic Consumption: I study how consumer signal their social status by communicating how busy they are. I study how consumers signal their interest in friendship by communicating their fun character when they would be better served by signaling their ability to give emotional support. I study the similarities of religion and a wellness lifestyle, both offering consumers peace and purification. Consumers are moving away from secular religion and satisfying these needs through wellness practices.